Posted: Friday 17th September 2021
Have you ever wondered what the journey to become a foster carer really feels like?
In this blog, new foster carers share their fostering journey step-by-step from their first chat with the fostering team to caring for their first child.
our journey to become foster carers
- Contacting the fostering team
- A visit to our home
- A real eye opener
- More paperwork
- We are going to panel
- We passed!
- That first phone call
- Our first foster child
- COVID 19
after seeing a Facebook post pop up on my news feed, I felt compelled to find out more about fostering for our local Council...
We are currently raising our little girl, our miracle IVF baby, and she is beautiful, thoughtful and inquisitive. After a long talk with my husband about fostering, we decided our little family could really benefit from looking after children and of course provide a stable, loving home for those in need.
contacting the fostering team
I simply contacted the fostering team through social media, and before we knew it, we were attending an information evening. Based on previous experiences; we were advised that fostering younger than our eldest is important, so for us that means looking after children aged 0-4. Caring for this age group generally means I can’t work, which is an important factor to bear in mind because a fostering allowance is not going to pay the bills (but will obviously contribute towards them).
our first visit
From that point on we knew fostering was for us, and a visit from a lovely social worker to our home was the next step. So far in our journey we’ve watched footage of foster carers ‘in action’, explaining some of the pitfalls and scenarios they’ve faced, and filled in plenty of paperwork which helps ensure we are the right people for the job so to speak.
a real eye-opener
The three-day training course was a real eye opener, it’s tough hearing about all the types of neglect little ones can face, especially as it’s so close to home – children living within our local area. We got to meet foster carers, potential carers and more social workers who all played an important role in helping us understand what we were letting ourselves in for! Both my husband and I attended the course which was tricky given we both work and have a three-year-old, but juggling is part and parcel of being a good parent in our eyes.
Again, more paperwork, a health check from our GP and being assigned our own social worker (Hazel) took us a little closer towards the final assessment. Hazel will be with us for the duration of our fostering career now, she’s our confidante to help guide us through things like deciding what type of foster carers we want to be. Hazel will be visiting us weekly for a few months, and when she thinks we are ready, we’ll be gong in front of a panel of assessors.
our fostering journey - part 2 - getting approved!
We are now six months on and going in front of a panel of assessors sounds a little daunting, but it’s just the beginning of our journey, fostering starts when we open our doors to a little one, which fills us with excitement and in trepidation in equal measures!
we are going to panel
Today is the day! The day we’ve spend 10 months preparing for, since that very first chat about fostering , we are going to panel…
It seems like a long time coming, but it’s also flown by. Over the past four months myself, my husband, our little girl and our dog have been working with Hazel (our social worker) on a weekly basis to build a relationship, ask questions and sort out the paperwork side of things. Hazel has seen the good, the bad and the ugly in our home! From a tired toddler to our needy dog – she’s seen all aspects of our family life!
Hazel had complied a lengthy report for the team to read before our arrival. We arrived five minutes ahead of our appointment (expecting to wait a while because these things rarely run on time), we set out with 15 minutes to spare, but there was a crash on the A55, leaving us stuck and panicking slightly!
Anyway all was good, and we got called into the meeting room at County Hall. It was a beautiful sunny day, and we had around 12 welcoming faces focusing on us. My husband and I are used to public speaking (I’m not saying we’re any good at it!), but this helped us with remaining calm.
One lady in particular took the lead, and asked us a few questions, all of which we’d talked about with Hazel – so no surprises! After what seemed like two minutes, we were ushered out for the panel to deliberate and then asked to return. I can’t remember their exact words, but WE PASSED!
We are now officially registered to care for a little one aged 0-4.
My husband and I celebrated with brunch, and couldn’t wait to share the news with our little girl – who’s initial response was ‘no mummy I don’t want to help you look after another little girl’ once I explained that she’d have someone to play with, she soon changed her mind!. We are a few weeks on now and getting very excited for our first placement! There’s been more paperwork and online training courses to complete, plus I’m booked onto a few day courses covering first aid and safeguarding.
Now we’ve been to panel, we don’t see Hazel for our two hour weekly coffee and catch up in our home which is taking some getting used to! But once we have a looked after child, Hazel’s friendly face will be back more frequently to support us.
As far as preparing for a boy/girl aged 0-4 to enter our lives, there’s not a lot we can do until we get that phone call – exciting times ahead!
our fostering journey - Part 3 - that first phone-call
Almost a month since the day of approval, we got the first call.
our first phone call
At 3pm exactly someone from the foster team called saying a little boy needed our help. It was half term and I was busy singing along at a Princess party with my 4 year old! We rushed home to prepare, and three hours later, we had a cot built, highchair in position and eagerly awaited the knock on the door.
Baby A had been to nursery, so he arrived around 6pm along with a social worker and a support worker. Without going into detail, mum needed respite, she needed a break, and we were more than happy to help. Baby A crawled around and explored our home with his eyes. 30 minutes later he was in our care.
our first foster child
At 14 months Baby A was a quick crawler! He ate well, and responded brilliantly to us. He couldn't talk but his non-verbal communications skills were excellent. Quickly establishing a routine to meet his needs (milk, naps, food etc) came naturally with it only being a few years since my little girl was that age.
Sleeping was a challenge, particularly as he developed a cold, but as a family we worked as a team to make it a happy experience all round. By the time Baby A went home, we had all grown fond of him, well apart from our dog! - Baby A used to wrinkle his face and mimic a 'growl' to tell him to stay away - and our dog obliged, it was a funny exchange but clever how baby A set his own boundary with him!
What was originally supposed to be “a couple of days” had turned into 6 nights. We learned from this first experience that time in fostering can be like elastic, the situation is constantly changing and there is a lot of unknowns. We've quickly learnt there's no such thing as a 'typical/straightforward' placement! Each case is unique and so it should be! Caring for a little one is a privilege.
In March 2020, just as we were getting started on our fostering journey, Coronavirus struck. At the moment we don't have placement, but that's not because our doors are shut to the idea. Fostering is still happening through this. The team are still protecting children and finding new ways to do their job, if at a distance.
Some court processes are delayed but we are expecting a phone call any day. This pandemic changes daily, but as a family we are fortunate enough to be safe at home all of the time.
We have the space and open hearts to care for others, and we are doing everything we can to prepare for the next phone call.